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Any individual filing a U.S. tax return is required to state his or her taxpayer identification number on such return. Generally, a taxpayer identification number is the individual’s Social Security Number (SSN).
However, in the case of an individual who is not eligible to be issued an SSN, but who has a tax filing obligation, the IRS issues an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) for use in connection with the individual’s tax filing requirements. An individual who is eligible to receive an SSN may not obtain an ITIN for purposes of his or her tax filing obligations.
ITINs are issued regardless of immigration status because both resident and nonresident aliens may have a U.S. filing or reporting requirement under the Internal Revenue Code.
A taxpayer applies for an ITIN by filing Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.
The taxpayer must also include originals of his or her proof of identity (or copies certified by issuing agency and foreign status documents). Individuals may also apply for an ITIN using the services of an IRS-authorized “Acceptance Agent.”
If an ITIN is applied for on or before the due date of the tax return (including extensions) and the IRS issues an ITIN as result of the application, the IRS will consider the ITIN as issued on or before the due date of the return. After the Form W-7 is processed, the IRS will assign an ITIN to the return and process the return.
A taxpayer can’t electronically file (e-file) a return using an ITIN in the calendar year the ITIN is assigned.
Once an ITIN is assigned, the taxpayer can e-file returns in the following years.
An ITIN only needs to be renewed if it will be included on a U.S. federal tax return and it is expiring or has expired.
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